Our little home had a small informal D&D Summit meeting yesterday. It made me think that a more formal such meeting would be fun in the future. But I'm talking about Saturday. In among the war stories and the nostalgia of games gone by we really discussed a lot of potential house rules. And now a mere 24 hours later, the ideas seeded there have grown into the blog post here.
Interesting Idea #1 - Has the die roll for ability scores become obsolete?
This came to me during a long discussion on how to refine the generation of ability scores. As of third and later editions, the ability score modifier has become much more central and fundamental to the competance of player characters. The vast majority of dice-based challenges have an ability score modifier as one of the primary values. So a character with mediocre stats is very likely to be incompetant, which makes that character a burden on the group, and becomes an element that discourages the player.
Furthermore, as gaming itself has evolved from it's roots, the idea of "disposable characters" has become an anachronism. Players more often than not come to the character creation process with a strong and detailed vision of what they wish that character to be. Often, the random die roll will force that player to compromise this vision for no better reason than the dice were cold.
Finally, the random die roll often leads to some characters being greatly more "gifted" than the rest of the party. In practice, the opposite where one character is saddled with poor die rolled stats is easily solved by allowig the player another shot at ability score generation, but the player who rolls high is seldom (and should not be) forced to reroll because they're too lucky.
The easiest solution to this problem is to remove the variable. Fourth Edition really brought this to the forefront by having two out of three ability score mechanics revolve around an array and point by system. (to be fair Third Edition and Pathfinder also offered a point buy system, but as an option to die rolling). Diceless ability scores easily achieve two very important goals in player dynamics. First being that a fully customizable set of ability scores allow each player to make the precise character they want to make. Secondly, all of the characters in a given group become similar in ability and competance. Everyone has a equal chance of being given the spotlight during the game.
Interesting Idea #2 - Increasing Experience Awards for multiple encounters without resting.
My fellow DM and close friend Sam came up with this little spark of brilliance. Which is unsurprising to me because the man is brilliant himself (but don't tell him that, I live under his roof and he'll get cocky ).
We were discussing the fifteen minute workday phenomenon, and how to manage it. Part of that solution comes from my own earlier post about houseruling spell preparation. The thing I love about this idea is that it doesn't try to use a stick to force characters out of their camp, but a carrot to reward them for continuing on.
It's very simple. Add a bonus amount of experience to each encounter overcome past the first. Thus, if a party wishes to take extended rests between most encounters, and approach each challenge fully prepared, then they still get the expected experience for their efforts. But if they press on, even in the face of dwindling resources and hit points, they earn more reward for their decision. Mainly because logically, they are accomplishing the same challenges with fewer resources. If the bonus progression is geometric rather than linear, then the temptation to press on becomes a game of risk and reward. Which adds a nice element of dramatic tension to the game.